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THE JACKET

            Clements (Things Not Seen, below, etc.) offers a heartfelt and well-meaning but somewhat simplistic novella that explores racial-consciousness-raising.  When sixth-grader Phil Moreli attempts to bring lunch money to his younger brother in their school’s hallway, he quickly meets up with his sibling – or so he thinks – because there’s his brother’s very distinctive jacket.  He is startled when its wearer turns out to be an African-American boy whom Phil has never seen.  He wrongly leaps to the conclusion that this boy stole the jacket and a brawl ensues.  Once the combatants face off in the principal’s office, the truth about how the jacket came into this stranger’s possession comes out.  Daniel, the African-American boy, had been given the jacket as a gift by his grandmother who, in turn, received it from her employer – Phil’s mother – for whom she works as a cleaning woman.  Daniel is angry that a white boy would automatically think of him as a thief and humiliated at an act of what he considers condescending charity.  He storms out, first throwing the jacket on the floor.  Regarding this as a gauntlet and feeling ashamed, Phil is now galvanized into reassessing his feelings and assumptions about African-Americans.  He realizes that he actually knows little about them and is convinced that he is prejudiced.  Phil’s attempts to come to grips with his guilt and chagrin will help young readers reevaluate their own attitudes toward people who are different from themselves.  Clements mostly steers clear of easy answers and admirably avoids the cliché of having the boys become fast friends at the end, though each does come to realize that the other is “a good guy.”  (Fiction.  8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82595-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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GUTS

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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